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Erika Sawajiri

Erika Sawajiri is born to a Japanese father and an Algerian-French mother. Her name Erika is derived from a flower’s name, Ericaceae’s Erica. Erika started her entertainment career as a freelance teenage model before signing for Stardust (talent agency) after passing an audition in 1999. She entered the entertainment world because she wanted to meet her idol, Japanese pop star Namie Amuro.

Erika continued to work as a teenage model before making her TV debut in 2001 as a regular in a Japanese variety show. She extended her modelling career as a gravure idol (bikini model) at just about the same time. Erika made her drama debut in 2003 with a small role in “Hotman”, starring Takashi Sorimachi. Her breakthrough came in 2004 with movie “Pacchigi” which won her multiple movie awards as best newcomer.

Erika then rose to super-stardom in 2005 with acclaimed TV drama “1 Liter of Tears”, in which she starred as a teenager with degenerative disease, based on a real life story. Erika launched her music career in 2006, using the name Kaoru Amane, her character from TV drama “Taiyou no Uta” (not to be confused with same titled movie, starring another Japanese starlet Yui).

Erika’s debut single was quite a hit and topped the Oricon chart. She released her 2nd single, “Free” in July 2007 using her name Erika, and hit the #1 spot on Oricon chart once again. Erika’s booming entertainment career however suffered a setback in Sept 2007 when she was promoting her movie “Closed Note” in an official event, where she showed some nasty attitude.

In a country (Japan) where politeness is everything, her gimmick drew huge criticism from the public. The media and some celebrities had openly criticised her attitude, and some of her fans had showed no mercy with this issue as well. Erika had to make a career saving apology on her website a few days later. Erika is currently taking a long break from her entertainment career; she left Japan for London in early January. Her future career plans remain uncertain.

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